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6

Tough to say how much Congress is damaged by Rahul Gandhi's interview. In an intelligent world, I'd say the Congress is over. But then, the Congress shop should have been shut at least 3-4 years ago, if not longer. But this is a world that runs on propaganda and deliberate stupidification with the collusion of all parties. So it is really tough to say.

I spoke with some people in the last few days and asked them if they had seen Rahul Gandhi's interview. About 80% of the people said they hadn't. Believe it or not. I talked with them about it, and asked if they were planning to catch a re-telecast if it happened. Most of them weren't all that interested. A few said talking with me made them curious, and if it came on again, they might see it.

Overall my perceptions here. The biggest negative from the interview people had is that he didn't say anything "exciting" or "interesting" etc -  I understood it to mean that the subjects of the interview weren't something they felt strongly about. They hadn't paid much attention to details. Few interesting views I came across. Note: THESE ARE NOT MY VIEWS.

About Rahul Gandhi as a PM candidate

"uski marji hain. woh nahi chahta to Arnab ne force nahi karna chahiye" (It is his wish. If he doesn't want to be PM candidate, Arnab shouldn't force.)

He isn't aggressive enough for Indian politics.

Whatever you say, Congress is the party that has run this country all this time. He is Indira Gandhi's grandson, Rahul Gandhi's son. He grew up knowing how to rule.

As long as Gandhi family is there, people will vote for it (though he himself wouldn't, he said)

About youth empowerment, women's empowerment, jobs and such

Most people weren't interested. General opinion is that politicians say such things.

One man said that he has been hearing politicians promise such things for years. Anyone you vote for will promise you this.

Woman seemed a bit resentful. Everyone talks about women. But our life remains the same. What is the use?

naukri hogi to accha hoga par kar ke dikhana chahiye. ye to abhi bolte hain phir election ke baad bhool jaate hain

About the Rahul Gandhi's comments on the Sikh riots

Most people had no real idea of the magnitude of the riots as anything different from other riots though they did know "Congress did them" - this is quite contrary to the public knowledge on social media. One person thought of the Anti-Sikh riots as larger than they were "dasaon hajaar sikhon ko kaat diya" (tens of thousands of Sikhs were cut down). Many (about 6-8) of the people did not understand any special significance into Rahul Gandhi being asked about those riots in particular. Two people brought up the Assam riots and Muzaffarnagar as more recent and needing attention.

The BJP may have helped Congress with regard to handling PR for 1984, because most people thought that "rival parties exaggerate riots and try to trap main leaders to make them lose election" or some variation thereof.

Astonishingly, not even a single person held Rahul Gandhi's denial of Congress involvement against him. Excuses ranged from "he was young at that time" to "how will he publicly admit?". One strange comment was "if he admits, he only will get arrested" no idea how that computed, though the naive belief that Rahul Gandhi could be arrested for saying the wrong thing delighted my heart for a while.

Other responses

Some other common responses.

Not interested in politics.

Aam Aadmi Party is "apni tarah" it will be good if they start here.

Vote for Modi.

Note: This isn't a proper scientific survey, but my observations - from memory of casual conversations. Sample size is not large (30-40 people), and ours is a lower middle class to working class area where few spend extensive time watching TV and those are usually housewives interested in talent shows and soaps. Shopkeepers and people with jobs usually don't get much time for TV at all - whether NaMo or RaGa.

I thought I was horrified by the blatant seeking of foreign funds by BJP on their website in complete disregard of the FCRA. But this one is creepier. Maybe.

Curious to know how the Congress collects online donations, I searched for "Indian National Congress donate" and found no results from any Congress website. Searched around a bit more. Then "How to donate to Congress Party". Nothing. Zero relevant results.

The Congress party is the largest party in the country with the greatest collection of funds. It also has over 80% of its funding unaccountable. The best I could find was the usual list of declared donations.

There were no forum posts asking party members to pay, no blog posts urging supporters to pay. No nothing. At least not in google results.

It is no secret that most funds of political parties are unaccounted for:

unaccountable funding of <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Indian</strong> political parties

The Congress party had declared that its main source of income was through selling of coupons (Rs 1,171.61 crore), according to information received in response to an RTI filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Karnataka Election Watch (KEW).

This means that the Congress sold *coupons* worth Rs. 3,20,98,904 - daily. Every single day of the year. Sure, large events would probably sell more coupons, small events would sell less coupons. To put it in a different style, considering that donations above rupees twenty thousand have to be reported, assuming that each coupon was twenty thousand, it would still mean selling over one thousand six hundred coupons a day.

And the party appears to have done it without asking anyone for money at all, or mentioning any small donations, or asking cadre to go and fund raise or anything. There isn't a whiff of it anywhere. Never heard anyone on social media say they were going to raise funds either - now that I think of it. One incident from 2010 shows as first result for "Rahul Gandhi fund raising" similar barren expanses of no information for "Sonia Gandhi fund raising" "Congress party fund raising" "donate to Congress party" (without party gives results from US), and etc.

After much expert snooping, I can confidently say that not only is most of Congress funding opaque in terms of not offering accounts, if coupons have been sold to masses, there is ZERO evidence of it. No talks of "vouchers are with Sushil" or "donations were good today" even. Nothing. And I have done a hell of a lot of snooping when I confidently say I fail to find out even a whiff.

I had thought I was aghast at BJP's open courting of foreign funds. I have to admit I am even more creeped out at massive collections of public funds without a trace in public view.

And when a new book "Unknown Facets of Rajiv Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Indrajit Gupta" written by former CBI director Dr A P Mukherjee says (according to Indian Express):

"Rajiv Gandhi was very clear that commissions paid as a routine by most defence dealers should be properly accounted for and not siphoned off by dishonest officials of the armed forces and politicians...he wanted such payments to be pooled and accounted for," Mukherjee has written.

"This (elections) leads to massive fund collections by important party functionaries all over the country, which leads to an almost unbreakable unholy quid pro quo nexus between unscrupulous party functionaries, ministers and businessmen. I could sense this as the party's general secretary or even as its youth leader earlier when I had to enter the political arena with considerable reluctance," Rajiv told him over coffee, Mukherjee has written.

I am thoroughly spooked.